Author Archives: Miles M

mariano rivera

AL BEast Team Capsules – quick news and numbers

AL BEast Notebook – May 13

New York Yankees

Despite having 11 players on the disabled list (including four third basemen and shortstops), the Yankees stand alone in first place. Since April 7, New York is 22-9.

  • Mariano Rivera has turned back the clock, picking up an AL-best 15 saves in 15 opportunities, supported by a 1.65 ERA and sub-1 WHIP.
  • After a shaky start, Hiroki Kuroda has thrown six straight quality starts. He’s now 5-2 with a 2.31 ERA.
  • Robinson Cano has been the one consistent in the lineup all year. Cano is hitting .311 with 10 home runs, 10 doubles, 23 RBI, and 22 runs scored, and committed just one error in 320 innings at second base.
  • Vernon Wells has been a big contributor to the team, hitting .293 with 9 home runs, 20 RBI and 19 runs scored. And the Angels are paying most of his salary.

Boston Red Sox

Two weeks ago I wrote that it was all smiles in Red Sox Nation, as Boston held the best record in baseball with a favorable upcoming schedule. Things haven’t stayed so sunny.

  •  The Red Sox are falling apart. They are 2-8 in their last ten games, including losing 5 of 6 at home to the Twins and Blue Jays. The games haven’t been close, either. Boston was outscored 33-62 over those last ten.
  •  The bullpen was supposed to be a big strength for the team, but it is actually the main cause of the problems. Hanrahan got hurt then got hurt again in his first game back and will miss the rest of the season. Andrew Bailey filled in well as closer until he got hurt. Tazawa has not been effective. Actually, the Sox haven’t had many save opportunities at all lately enough to worry about who’s the closer. The Red Sox bullpen WHIP and ERA are highest in the AL.
  • After his late start, David Ortiz hit .500 in nine April games. In May he is batting just .179.
  •  Red Sox games have a lot of whiffs. Boston hitters have struck out 317 times, more than any AL team. Their pitchers have also struck out the most batters (363).
  • It isn’t all bad for the Sox. Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester continue to pitch well. They are combined 11-0.
  • Here are a few things to add comfort to Red Sox fans. The three batters they sent to the Dodgers are all hitting well (Adrian Gonzalez .345, Carl Crawford .315, Nick Punto .338). Jed Lowrie is hitting .310 for Oakland with 13 doubles. James Loney is hitting .376 for the Rays. Marco Scutaro is hitting .479 since April 29 for the Giants. And that’s excusing Josh Reddick, who hit 32 home runs in Oakland last year.

Baltimore Orioles

Orioles have been very consistent all year, having scored the most runs in the league and have the best run differential in the division.

  •  Chris Davis was red-hot for the first three weeks, and Manny Machado has been on an absolute tear the last three. Since the middle of the doubleheader on April 20 (22 games), Machado is hitting .396, with three straight three-hit games over the weekend.
  • Jim Johnson has converted 35 consecutive regular season save opportunities, most in franchise history. Johnson has not allowed a run in any save situation this year (14 innings).
  • There are suddenly some concerns with the starting rotation. Wei-Yin Chen was cruising along with five shutout innings Sunday when he left with an oblique strain. An oblique strain usually means a trip to the DL. If so, he would be joining teammate Miguel Gonzalez, who went on the DL Thursday with blister problems. They have sent down pitchers Steve Johnson, Jake Arrieta and Zach Britton (and Josh Stinson) to the minors in the last few weeks. Freddy Garcia has been starting and is scheduled for Wednesday, but I trust Garcia about as far as I can throw him.

Toronto Blue Jays

Despite a 5-3 stretch recently (a big improvement), there is still plenty of concern in Toronto.

  • Josh Johnson is on the disabled list, Brandon Morrow was scratched from his start on Sunday, and J.A. Happ was struck in the head with a line drive last week. Ricky Romero was removed after recording just one out in his second start and promptly returned to the minors. Blue Jays pitchers have already issued the most walks and allowed the most earned runs and unearned runs, and these recent events put even more pressure on R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle, who haven’t been very good anyway.
  • Rajai Davis strained his oblique over the weekend and will also be shelved for a couple weeks, the Jays second leadoff hitter to go down.
  •  Toronto is in last place by five games and has the worst run differential in the league.
  • There is one thing the Blue Jays do well and that is hit home runs. They lead the league in bombs (51 in 39 games).
  • Jose Bautista is starting to heat up. He is hitting .333 in May (with .453 OBP), although his two homers in Sunday’s blowout win were his first since April 27.

Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay has won five straight games to crawl above .500 (19-18).

  • Here’s a strange situation: the Rays hitters are Top Ten in runs, home runs, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage while Rays pitchers are in the bottom half of the league in ERA, quality starts, batting average against, on-base percentage and home runs.
  • Matt Moore is 6-0 and had a quality start in every game outside of Coors Field. His 2.14 ERA is among the league leaders.
  • James Loney has now accumulated enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title. His .376 average trails only Miguel Cabrera.
  • Evan Longoria continues to do it all: .333 average, 47 hits, 9 home runs, 10 doubles, 28 runs scored, and 26 RBI.

(Disclaimer: Again, the Astros are so bad that when giving team rankings in the league, the Astros are ignored. So technically worst probably means second-worst.)

miguel cabrera

Baseball Power Report: Week 5 (Month 1)

A month is in the books so here is my early May Power Report. For each team I have a ranking and a few interesting stats/observations for not just the last week, but the season to date. Enjoy it because it took a lot of work!

30. Astros. Lost 10 out of 11 and outscored by 24 runs the last two. The 198 runs they’ve allowed is 34 more than the next team. On pace for 41-121 record. They’ve also racked up an impressive 323 strikeouts, which will shatter the all time record. Philip Humber not only has the highest ERA but also the lowest run support; that’s how you go 0-7. There’s no question that second baseman Jose Altuve (NL-most 43 hits, .331 average) will be the team’s All-Star rep.

29. Marlins. Even with their 14 run outburst against Roy Halladay on Sunday, Marlins are the only team yet to score 100 runs (in 32 games), and with the only real legitimate player (Giancarlo Stanton) out another month, runs will continue to be hard to come by.

(The Astros and Marlins are so bad that for the rest of the league, if I say worst/lowest/fewest/most/highest, it means among everyone else.)

28. Cubs. Believe it or not, the Cubs starting pitchers have given up the lowest batting average of any rotation (.218) and they have the most strikeouts in the NL. Unfortunately, the bullpen has dragged down the staff with a .356 on-base percentage allowed and 8 blown saves.

27. Padres. They have no hitters you’ve ever heard of but it is the pitching that has been bad. League’s worst ERA for starting pitchers. But since San Diego’s 5-15 start they are a respectable 8-3.

26. Mets already have 14 losses to the Marlins, Phillies, Rockies, Dodgers and Padres. All starters not named Matt Harvey have combined for a 5.63 ERA.

25. White Sox. The Sox have gotten some great starting pitching and bullpen work but the offense is anemic. They have scored the fewest runs and at .281 have the lowest on-base percentage in all of MLB. They have three regulars (Adam Dunn, Jeff Keppinger, and Tyler Flowers) batting under .200. Right now they have less than half as many walks as the A’s and yet more strikeouts.

24. Mariners. Michael Morse has an impressive 9 home runs, but he’s hitting .091 with runners in scoring position, giving him 14 RBI. King Felix and Hisashi Iwakuma have been an outstanding duo at the top of the rotation, yielding just 17 earned runs in 95.1 innings (1.60 ERA), but starters for the rest of the games have been atrocious (100 IP, 76 ER = 6.84 ERA).

23. Blue Jays. Yes, I picked them to win the East and I still think they can get back into the race. But at this point Toronto has had one of the worst offenses (.232 average), worst fielding (16 unearned runs), and worst pitching (.776 on-base plus slugging percentage allowed) and worst run differential. Jays hit a lot of home runs but that’s it. I’m not writing them off yet but there is definitely room for improvement. J.P. Arencibia doesn’t watch many pitches: 42 strikeouts, 2 walks.

22. Twins. Off to a good start but it’s not sustainable. They have very little power, the pitching staff doesn’t strike anyone out, and they have given up 43 more hits than they’ve produced.

21. Phillies. You know there’s trouble when Kyle Kendrick is leading the staff. Phillies are a shocking 5-15 in starts by Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Roy Halladay.

20. Angels. A team that was supposed to be much improved is the biggest disappointment. Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo are starting to pick up but Josh Hamilton (.208) and Albert Pujols (.237) are not. Chris Iannetta has had a base stolen off him 21 times in 24 games and caught only two runners. But the biggest problem has been the pitching, which has been the league’s worst. Angels are 9 games behind the Rangers.

carlos gomez

19. Brewers. Already this season Milwaukee has a losing streak of 5 games, winning streak of 9 games, and another losing streak of 5 games. Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez, Jean Segura and Yuniesky Betancourt have been great but the pitching has been very inconsistent.

18. Rockies. After an amazing start the Rockies haven’t won back-to-back games since April 19-20. Hitting has reigned both home at Coors Field and on the road and the Rockies have the best offense in baseball led by Michael Cuddyer, Carlos Gonzalez, Dexter Fowler, Troy Tulowitzki and Wilin Rosario. The pitching is better than last year, but we don’t know how much better.

17. Dodgers. There is a lot of great with Clayton Kershaw, Adrian Gonzalez (.337 average, .398 OBP), Carl Crawford (.383 OBP), Nick Punto (.441 OBP), A.J. Ellis (.390 OBP), and Mark Ellis (.342 average), but the Dodgers still sit four games under .500. Josh Beckett is still winless in six starts and Matt Kemp has just one homer. One other interesting stat: Dodgers have a .305 batting average against lefties, best in the majors.

16. Rays. Didn’t see this coming: since April 17, James Loney is hitting 28/53 (.528) and providing Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist with some much-needed support. Matt Joyce has 6 home runs and 9 RBI (in 26 games!). Tampa hitters homered in 17 straight games, a streak that ended surprisingly in Colorado Saturday. Rays starters are now one of six teams since 1916 to have starters pitch at least five innings in each of the team’s first 31 games. Matt Moore has been great, which is a good thing because David Price has not (1 win in 7 starts, 6.25 ERA).

15. Indians. Here’s a stat you probably couldn’t guess: Indians pitchers have the lowest opponents batting average. Catcher Carlos Santana doesn’t offer much defensively, but with the bat he is crushing, leading the league with a .379 average and adding power (6 homers). Mark Reynolds is hitting an un-Mark-Reynolds-like .296. The pitching is erratic, but the hitting should be good enough to keep them around the middle of the pack.

14. Royals. Jeremy Guthrie is 9-0 since August 3. The new additions in the rotation (James Shields and Ervin Santana) have lifted the Royals to one of the most productive rotations in the AL. At 17-10 KC is off to a hot start but I’m not a believer. There is no power in the lineup (just 16 total homers) and their .393 OBP with runners in scoring position will drop. Things get tougher as 23 of their next 26 games are against the Orioles, Yankees, Angels, Athletics, Cardinals, and Rangers. We’ll see where they are at in a month, but my guess is on the other side of .500.

13. Diamondbacks have done a good job fighting through injuries but have one glaring weakness: the bullpen. Arizona relievers have blown 10 saves in 18 chances. Funny thing is the peripheral numbers aren’t bad: 3.12 ERA, .229 average against. Starter Ian Kennedy hasn’t won a game since Opening Day. Didi Gregorius is batting .433 in 8 games with 7 extra-base hits.

12. Pirates. Hitting has improved and pitching has slipped as Pittsburgh floats closer to the .500 mark. Jason Grilli has been lights out: 12/12 in saves, 21/4 K/BB, 0.69 ERA and 0.85 WHIP. One early cause for concern: Pirates relievers have thrown the most innings of any bullpen. Pedro Alvarez has had 39 at bats with runners in scoring position and just 6 hits (.154).

11. Yankees. Watching them every day I feel like they should be lower, but they keep winning. Looking at their record I feel like I should put them higher, but they keep losing players to injury. Right now Jeter, A-Rod, Teixeira, Granderson, Youkilis, Cervelli, Nova, Pineda and Chamberlain are all on the disabled list, and Eduardo Nunez and David Robertson are also hurt. There is no doubt that a 18-12 start is much better than anyone could have anticipated, but can it continue with Jayson Nix, Chris Nelson, Lyle Overbay, Ichiro and Chris Stewart playing every day? Robinson Cano has serious legitimacy as the MVP so far.

10. Giants. Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval haven’t disappointed, and Madison Bumgarner (1.55 ERA, 0.84 WHIP) has leapfrogged Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum as the dominant ace of the staff. Giants have allowed ten more home runs and doubles then their offense has provided, but they’ve still outscored their opponent by ten. Giants starters have 10 wins, relievers have 9.

9. Braves. 6-11 record since their 12-1 start. Evan Gattis and Chris Johnson have been good surprises, but overall Justin Upton hasn’t gotten much support in the lineup. Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman and Brian McCann have all been hurt, but B.J. Upton, Dan Uggla and Heyward (when he’s played) have been totally awful, combining for a .158 average. And while their starting pitching overall has been great, the Braves have lost nine of the last ten starts by Kris Medlen, Mike Minor and Paul Maholm. Justin Upton’s 12 home runs is worth mentioning again.

8. Athletics. Traditionally a pitching team, things have changed dramatically in Oakland, and without any true slugger. I don’t know what’s so scary about the Athletics lineup but they have tallied the most (by far) base-on-balls in the league, extra-base hits, and runs. (Sounds like Moneyball to me.) They are also near the top in stolen bases. 39 year-old Bartolo Colon has issued one walk in six starts.

7. Orioles. Speaking of extra-base hits, Chris Davis, Manny Machado and Adam Jones have 53 of them, most of any teammate trios, and if you add Nate McLouth’s nine stolen bases, that makes four O’s that get themselves around the bases into scoring position. Matt Wieters isn’t doing anything with the bat but he’s been great defensively, throwing out eight would-be-basestealers (57%).

6. Cardinals have 23 quality starts in 31 games and the lowest starters ERA. In fact, all five starting pitchers have an ERA under 2.80. That’s good because their relievers have been the worst group in all of baseball. With Beltran, Holliday, Yadier Molina and Allen Craig, the St Louis lineup is very balanced and has been the best with runners in scoring position, hitting .328 with a .405 on-base percentage. Cardinals are MLB-best 13-6 on the road.

5. Reds. Shin-Soo Choo has been the most impactful new addition to any team this year, with his .463 on-base percentage in the leadoff spot. He has a .615 on-base percentage with runners in scoring position, and thanks to 8 walks in those situations actually has more runs scored than at-bats. Joey Votto’s overall OBP is higher, at .464. Jay Bruce hit 66 home runs the last two seasons but has just one so far in 2013 (with 46 strikeouts).

4. Nationals. I said they had the most complete (and best) team and even with their poorish start I still believe. The strange things are Strasburg’s struggles, the offense’s inability to score runs, and the most errors in baseball. Nats only hitting .203 against lefties. Jordan Zimmerman has been outstanding (5-1, 1.64) but Gio Gonzalez (4.97) and Dan Haren (5.01) have a long way to go. If I had to make my season predictions again I would still pick the Nats to make the World Series.

3. Red Sox. The Sox still are tied for the best record in baseball despite getting swept in Texas. David Ortiz has a 25-game hitting streak, going back to last July and through a couple stints on the DL. Mike Napoli is enjoying the Green Monster as he leads the league with 22 extra-base hits. Clay Buchholz has won all 6 of his starts, with a 1.01 ERA and 0.96 ERA. I’m still not picking them to win the division, but with their soft schedule the next four weeks Boston should stay around the top for another month.

2. Rangers. Yu Darvish has emerged as one of the top pitchers in all of baseball, but the key to the Rangers success has been the rookies: Nick Tepesch, Justin Grimm, Robbie Ross and Tanner Scheppers. Even with their hitter-friendly home of the Ballpark in Arlington, the Rangers have the league-lowest ERA and WHIP. They are also the only team without a blown save.

1. Tigers. Miguel Cabrera has picked up right where he left off. He leads baseball in hits and has walked 17 times and has knocked in 36 runs already. He is definitely enjoying lots of protection in the Tigers lineup with Prince (8 HR, .429 OBP, 32 RBI), and Torii Hunter (.361 average). Being on the unemployment market and then in the minors has gotten Jose Valverde’s attention; he has only allowed one baserunner in four innings and put the back of the Tigers bullpen under control. And then there’s Verlander, Sanchez and Scherzer. Any question why the Tigers are in the #1 spot?

Players of the Week

AL: Ryan Raburn, Indians. (I could have gone with Miguel Cabrera here, but he did all his damage in one game against the Astros.) Raburn had two multi-homer games followed by a 4-hit game, and another multi-hit game on Sunday.

NL: Carlos Gomez, Brewers. Milwaukee lost 5 in a row, but you can’t blame Gomez. He went 12-26 with 6 extra-base hits and 5 stolen bases. The centerfielder is now hitting .368 on the season, with 6 HR and 7 SBs.

 

tim hudson

Hope you didn’t go to bed early Tuesday night

Last night may be one of the nuttiest baseball days I can ever remember! Here are the highlights:

- Braves pitcher Tim Hudson doubled and homered, helping himself win his 200th career game.

Other starting pitchers weren’t so lucky…

- Mets’ Jeremy Hefner pitches 8.1 shutout innings, leaves leading 1-0 with a man on third. His reliever Brandon Lyon gives up a single for a run, then the Marlins walk-off with a wild pitch.

- Trevor Cahill of the Diamondbacks also pitched a shutout into the ninth inning. After he was removed (after throwing just 88 pitches), J.J. Putz gave up a two-run homer to lose the game 2-1.

So two starting pitchers were removed in the ninth inning leading 1-0 and both teams lost.

- Poor Robin Ventura, all he needs is a reliever he can count on. He brought in a new White Sox pitcher for the sixth inning in a tie game. The pitcher walked a batter and was taken out. The new pitcher gave up a double to his only batter and was removed. The third reliever gave up single, single, walk, wild pitch, wild pitch, home run. Suffice to say, the game was no longer tied.

- In the Pirates and Brewers game, both starting pitchers were removed after five innings. Down 5-7, the Pirates hit a 3-run homer in the top of the sixth inning to take the lead. The Pirates relievers then gave up home runs in the bottom of the sixth, seventh and eighth innings and the Brewers won 12-8.

- It was a Home Run Derby in Cleveland! Indians hit seven home runs by six different players, and a couple Phillies poke one out, too.

- Speaking of home runs, Blue Jays Edwin Encarnacion hit an upper-deck shot that went over 500 feet, then after Boston took the lead EE hit a another two-run shot in the seventh inning to win the game.

- Nate McLouth led off the Orioles vs. Mariners game with a home run. Then after Manny Machado followed with a double, pitcher Brandon Mauerer threw two wild pitches to Nick Markakis and Machado scored. Double and two wild pitches, might as well have been another home run!

- The Angels and Athletics combined for five wild pitches, three errors and eleven walks. Do you think going 19 innings on Monday had anything to do with it?

- The Padres and Cubs combined to get 18 extra-base hits (plus 3 stolen bases).

- Last April, Philip Humber threw a perfect game. This April for the Astros he went 0-6.

Kuroda Kuroda struggled early, needing 67 pitches to get through three innings. There were lots of baserunners, but all seven were stranded and none scored. Because of his effectiveness with men on base, the pitching coach Larry Rothschild told him to pitch from the stretch the rest of the game. It worked: it took the Yankee pitcher 41 pitches to get through the next four innings, and the only hitter to reach base was caught stealing.

Astros DH Chris Carter hit a home run in the eighth inning, but that was after his 46th strikeout of the month, a new record.

Yup, it was one of those days.

russell martin

Baseball stats n’ facts: Week 4

If you saw my previous article written earlier today, you know that the Red Sox have the best record in baseball. After one month, the Red Sox, Royals and Pirates are all alone in first place, and after Colorado lost two to Arizona this weekend, the Rockies and Diamondbacks are now tied for the division lead. Take that for what it’s worth, we’ve seen it before.

With that in mind, here are some notes from the last week of this great baseball season.

- As mentioned in my Red Sox article, Boston is 14-0 in games that Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, and Felix Doubront pitch.

- Boston’s schedule through May 30 includes 27 games against the Twins, Blue Jays, White Sox, Indians, Rays and Phillies.

- Red Sox hit 29 doubles in seven games last week (ten more than anyone else).

- After a slow start, the Pittsburgh Pirates are 11-4 against the Cardinals, Reds, Braves and D-Backs.

- The Pirates’ pitching staff, statistically one of the best, is led by A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez, and Jeff Locke. Who would have guessed.

- As of Saturday those free-spending Angels, Dodgers and Blue Jays were all under .500 (Dodgers now at 12-12).

- Justin Upton has as many home runs as the Miami Marlins team.

- Saturday was the first time the Braves had lost a game in which Justin Upton had homered. They were 10-0.

- Surprise! Despite all that was written prior to the season about losing Swisher, Ibanez, Martin, A-Rod, Granderson and Teixeira, the Yankees have hit the most home runs in the American League.

- Rays have homered in 14 straight games. They had zero the six games before that.

- Without a doubt, Angels Joe Blanton has been the worst pitcher in baseball. In five starts he has allowed 47 hits (including 18 extra-base hits and four stolen bases) in about 27 innings. Only four individual batters (Bryce Harper, Chris Davis, Justin Upton and Carlos Santana) have a higher OPS than he has allowed.

- A lot of big-time hitters are in serious slumps. Andrew McCutchen was 1-22 (.045) last week, Albert Pujols 3-27, Carlos Gonzalez 2-24, Mike Trout 3-24, and Adam LaRoche 0-24.

- Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista hit a combined 8 home runs in a five-game stretch this week, yet the Blue Jays went 1-4 in those games.

- And now my crusade going after terrible relievers and pitchers who can’t throw strikes:

 – Baltimore Orioles had won 17 straight extra-innings games. How did that end? Closer Jim Johnson hits a batter to load the bases and then walks Maicer Izturis, of all people (on four pitches), to lose the game.

– In the same inning, Blue Jays’ Aaron Laffey walked Yankees’ Ben Francisco (backup DH), Chris Stewart (backup catcher) and Jayson Nix (backup third baseman).

– In that game, Blue Jays’ pitchers walked ten Yankees and and Francisco, Stewart, Nix, Ichiro and Brett Gardner accounted for seven of those.

– He didn’t account for all of them, but two of Felix Doubront’s last three games had 15 walks issued by both teams. In Saturday’s game there were eight bases-on-balls in the first two innings. Yawn…

– In a tie game in the seventh inning on Saturday, Cardinals pitcher Trevor Rosenthal was pulled after walking a batter. His replacement Joe Kelly threw a wild pitch, hit a batter, then walked in the go-ahead run.

– Cubs Carlos Marmol has walked six batters in his last four innings. On the season he has 10 BB in less than 11 innings pitched. (Do you trust him?)

 Players of the Week
Couple of unlikely candidates.

AL: Josh Donaldson. The Athletics third baseman had 12 hits with 7 doubles and 7 walks, and knocked in 10 runs.

NL: Russell Martin. After a dreadful start, Martin (along with all the Pirates) have really picked up.  Martin hit .171 the first two weeks and .409 the last two weeks, including four home runs last week leading Pittsburgh on a 4-2 road trip.

david ortiz

All Smiles in Red Sox Nation

AL BEast Notebook – April 29

There’s a lot of buzz right now about the Red Sox hot start. Yes, after a 93-loss season, today they have the best record in all of baseball at 18-7, and they’ve been quite impressive. Here are some of the reasons why.

- Starting pitching has allowed three runs or less in 23 out of 25 games.

- Boston is 14-0 in games started by Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and Felix Doubront.

- Boston hitters are batting 52 points higher than their opponents (.272 to .221).

- With runners on base, the Red Sox hitters lead the league in average (.310), on-base percentage and slugging percentage.

- Conversely, with runners on base, Red Sox pitchers have allowed the lowest average (.176), on-base percentage and slugging percentage.

- Dustin Pedroia is hitting .330, along with the second-highest walk total in the AL. He actually only has six extra base hits and leads the American League in singles. But all those singles and walks is just fine because…

- Mike Napoli has fallen in love with the Green Monster, hitting a league-high 13 doubles in 25 games and compiling 27 RBI already.

- Jacoby Ellsbury is only batting .273, but he has 11 stolen bases already.

- David Ortiz is back to his old self. He has 16 hits in eight games and dating back to July, has a 20-game hitting streak. In those eight games this season he has 11 RBI and a .529 on-base percentage.

- Red Sox closer Joel Hanrahan struggled then got hurt, yet his replacement Andrew Bailey has been superb. In seven games and innings since taking over, Bailey has given up just three hits, one run, and picked up five saves.

- Looking at the upcoming schedule, you can expect them to keep it up. If we pretend the Twins (who are at 11-10) lose in Detroit tonight, then only 3 of the next 30 games for the Red Sox are against teams above .500. Take a look at the schedule.

It has been a crazy month in Boston. After all they’ve gone through with a Patriots Day tragedy and successful citywide manhunt, it feels appropriate that they are having a happy start.

daniel nava

late-April Look at the AL East Awards

AL BEast Notebook – April 26

Four weeks into the season isn’t too soon to evaluate award races for the AL East. Well, maybe it is… but it’s still fun.

First Month Awards

MVP: Chris Davis, Orioles. Davis leads the division in home runs, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and runs created and WAR (sabermetric stats), and all that with virtually no protection in the lineup (J.J. Hardy, batting .181). Napoli and Cano honorable mention.

Best Pitcher: Matt Moore, Rays. 4-0 in four starts in two good hitters’ parks (Arlington and Camden Yards) along with dominant performances over the Yankees and Indians. ERA of just 1.04, WHIP of 0.92 and batting average against of .116. Apologies to Clay Buchholz.

Biggest Surprise: Daniel Nava, Red Sox. The 30-year old career fourth outfielder’s strong start has allowed him to take over left field from Jonny Gomes and Jackie Bradley, Jr. Nava is third in the AL East in on-base plus slugging percentage (behind just Davis and Cano) with 18 hits in 18 games along with 10 walks, 4 homers, 11 runs, and 15 RBI.

Biggest Disappointment: David Price, Rays. Tampa is 0-5 in last year Cy Young winner’s starts. After racking up more Ks than hits three years in a row, he’s struck out just 26 batters while allowing 37 hits, and lots of the extra-base variety (five home runs and ten doubles), although neither in recent loss to Yankees).

Manager: John Farrell, Red Sox. The new sheriff in town came to fix the pitching in Boston and in April he has. Starting pitchers have allowed three runs or less in 20 of the Sox 22 games. Boston’s team ERA has rebounded from worst to best. The offense has also been surprisingly strong, leading the division in on-base percentage, helping the Red Sox jump out to an early tie for best record in the American League at 15-7.

Rookie: Manny Machado, Orioles. He’s not technically a rookie since he had 181 at bats in 2012, but the 20 year old wonder kid has blossomed into an All-Star already. He’s batted #2 and played third base every inning of Baltimore’s games. Along with racking up defensive highlights he is showing a clutch gene, going 6 for 9 with runners in scoring position and two outs, for 11 of his 14 RBI. If not rookie, he’s been the breakout player at least.

Crazy Stat: Toronto’s J.P. Arencibia, Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, and Colby Rasmus have combined to hit 22 home runs and just 31 singles. They also have 98 strikeouts.

Updated Projections

Orioles 88 (0)

Blue Jays 87 (-2)

Yankees 84 (0)

Red Sox 84 (+4)

Rays 80 (-3)

josh johnson

Injury Updates and Recent Moves

AL BEast Notebook – April 26

Here’s an update of injuries and significant transactions (from reputable sources around the teams) all organized nicely to help you keep tabs on what’s going on around the division.

New York Yankees

- Kevin Youkilis has been out a week with a sore back. He was supposed to be back yesterday but needed some more rest.

- As for the regulars, Curtis Granderson is the most likely to return first. He was hitting off a tee this week and could be two weeks away. Mark Teixeira was targeting May 1, but is now realistically hoping for a late-May return. Michael Pineda threw a simulated inning and is hoping to make a June return. Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter are hoping to be ready in July.

- (UPDATE: it was an eventful night at the Stadium. Francisco Cervelli was hit by a foul ball in the first inning and fractured his hand; he needs surgery and will be out a couple months. Austin Romine is being called up to be the backup catcher. In the third inning, Ivan Nova left with a sore elbow.)

Boston Red Sox

- Shane Victorino has missed three games this week with back stiffness. On Thursday John Farrell said he will not return to the lineup until he is “symptom-free.”

- John Lackey threw this week and is on track to come off the DL and pitch against the Astros on Sunday, which is like a glorified rehab assignment.

- Joel Hanrahan threw a bullpen session on Wednesday and is headed to Pautucket on Friday to begin a rehab assignment.

- Craig Breslow is planned to pitch back-to-back days in Pautucket this weekend and could return to Boston next week.

- Franklin Morales had a setback in his rehab, developing some soreness in his chest this week. There’s no timetable on his return.

Other moves: Alfredo Aceves was demoted to AAA. Daniel Bard was brought back up this week after Steven Wright came up for one poor outing before getting sent back down. Allen Webster was called up and started one of the doubleheader games and promptly returned (although he pitched well). Backup catcher Ryan Lavarnway is in Boston.

Baltimore Orioles

- Steve Johnson pitched a rehab game in the minors on Wednesday and didn’t do particularly well, giving up four runs in five innings. He could be back in Baltimore next week.

- Brian Roberts has not been cleared for baseball activities. He jogged on a treadmill in a pool this week (sounds like fun). Late May is a realistic expectation.

- Tsuyoshi Wada, recovering from Tommy John surgery, pitched four innings in an extended Spring Training game this week. Orioles hope he can be back in June.

- Wilson Betemit, torn PCL in his right knee, should be back sometime this summer.

- Top prospect Dylan Bundy is dealing with elbow/arm problems and will visit Dr. Andrews on Monday for a second opinion. 20 year old Bundy hasn’t thrown off a mound since March.

Other moves: It has been a game of musical chairs for Orioles pitchers lately. Josh Stinson was called up for one start and was promptly sent back down. Reliever Alex Burnett was also called up and returned a couple days later. Zach Britton was called up Thursday and scheduled to start Monday after Jake Arrieta was sent to the minors.

Toronto Blue Jays

- Josh Johnson will miss Friday’s scheduled start because of triceps tightness, though the move was described as precautionary. He has had a poor April, giving up four runs and not pitching past the sixth inning in three of his four starts.

- Sergio Santos is eligible to come off the DL on April 30 but I can’t seem to find any update on him. Seems like he’s not likely to come back for at least another week.

- Jose Reyes is targeting the All-Star break as a return date from his severely sprained ankle.

- Blue Jays have several lesser pitchers out without much of a timetable (Dustin McGowan, Kyle Drabek, Drew Hutchinson).

Other moves: Blue Jays picked up Aaron Laffey off waivers and he will start in place of Johnson today (Friday) against the Yankees (New York usually struggle against lefties.) Ramon Ortiz and Brad Lincoln were swapped for the bullpen.

Tampa Bay Rays

- Yunel Escobar left the game Wednesday with tightness in his hamstring and not expected to play Friday. He’s day-to-day.

- Luke Scott is set to make his season debut on Tuesday.

- Jeff Niemann underwent shoulder surgery April 10 and will miss the season.

shin soo choo

Feats n’ Facts for Week 3

(April 22)

Last week you may recall I expressed my agitation with pitchers who can’t throw strikes. I don’t know if umpires uniformly decided on shrinking the strike zone (besides the one from the Rays/Rangers game a couple weeks back) but there have been more walks than I can ever remember. This week saw some of the same but also some signs of improvement.

- Indians and Red Sox pitchers combined to walk 15 batters in Tuesday’s nine inning game. Seriously, who has time for that?

- With an obviously different home plate ump on Wednesday, Braves and Royals pitchers struck out 19 batters without issuing a single base-on-balls. My kind of game.

- Phillies hitters went four straight complete games this week without taking a walk.

- Athletics collected 22 free passes in the same time period.

- On Monday, Cliff Lee issued his first walk in his last 169 batters faced. On Saturday he walked three batters in five innings.

- Adam Lind, the Blue Jays batter hitting .227 with no homers on the season came into the batter’s box five times this weekend against the Yankees and might as well have left his bat in the dugout. He walked in all five plate appearances.

- The Amazing Astros

– Erik Bedard continues his bizarre season. In this week’s start Bedard walked four of the first five batters of the game, gave up six runs and only got one out.

– Philip Humber and the Astros bullpen had an unfortunately memorable day Saturday. By the time they had retired the tenth Indian out, 24 batters had been on base including 18 that touched home plate. In three (plus) innings Houston allowed 17 hits, 4 walks, committed two errors and hit a batter. The home crowd was not pleased.

And like Bedard a week ago, Cleveland’s Scott Kazmir couldn’t even stay in the game long enough to get a win despite getting 19 runs of support!

 - Sadly, that wasn’t the only wacky pitching performance of Saturday night.  Tigers’ Rick Porcello put up this line: 0.2 innings, 9 hits, 9 runs. The first eight of those hits were singles. The ninth was not (no sir, Mike Trout grand slam).

- Johan Santana who? In four starts Mets pitcher phenom Matt Harvey has a .108 batting average against. He’s given up 10 hits in 29 innings.

- Reigning Cy Young winner David Price has offered up five homers and ten doubles already. Indians pitcher Brett Myers has allowed ten homers and five doubles.

- Speaking of Price: Matt Cain, Cole Hamels and Price’s teams are 0-12 in games they start.

- Adam Dunn is at it again. He homered Sunday afternoon, snapping a 0-31 slump. Teammate Jeff Keppinger might catch him; he’s still hitless in his last 24 at bats.

- Twins center fielder Aaron Hicks picked up his third hit of the season Sunday. It took him 14 games and 51 at-bats, but he finally got #3. It raised his batting average to .059.

- Braves are 8-0 when Justin Upton hits a home run.

- Upton has hit 9 homers and 7 singles. (J.P. Arencibia, Dexter Fowler and Mark Reynolds each have 7 home runs and 6 singles.)

- Braves won three straight last weekend over the Nationals. This weekend they lost three straight to the Pirates.

- We all know that it seems the Dodgers have been playing with Monopoly money recently, adding payroll like it’s going out of style. Well, Saturday night’s lineup featured Nick Punto, Jerry Hairston Jr, A.J. Ellis, Juan Uribe, and Luis Cruz. Not exactly what you were expecting.

- In one inning Friday night, Brewers Jean Segura stole second base, got caught in a rundown at third base, ended up on first base again, and got caught stealing second base. In a span of five pitches. Hard to believe.

- The two batters with the highest on-base-percentage this season are teammates in Cincinnati. Joey Votto’s OBP is .522 thanks to a ridiculous 25 walks, and leadoff man Shin-Soo Choo is one better, OBP of .523. You would think the manager would maximize production by putting them together in the batting order, but not Dusty Baker…

Players of the Week

AL: Mike Napoli. Gotta go with a Boston player this week. Napoli had 7 extra base hits and 10 RBI.

NL: Carlos Gonzalez. CarGo went 10/24 with 3 doubles, 1 triple and a homer. He also walked 3 times and stole 2 bases, which is as good as two more doubles, helping the surprise Rockies come a Sunday bullpen meltdown away from winning 9 in a row.

boston

greatest day in Northeast sports history?

(April 20)

For a mid-April Saturday with no rings or trophies being awarded, it has been one of the most incredible sports days in the Northeast I can ever remember. In Boston, the Red Sox, Bruins, and Celtics were all in action, and after yesterday’s heroic triumph over evil, what a day for celebration! For New York, the Yankees, Knicks, Nets, Mets and Devils were all playing and gave fans a great show.

Here’s the rundown:

Boston Red Sox triumphantly return to Fenway with a great ceremony, dramatic three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth to win it; Ortiz returns and contributes, Buchholz goes to 4-0

New York Yankees win in 11 innings; Kuroda pitches a gem and Rivera saves the game

New York Knicks matched up with the Boston Celtics in playoff action

Brooklyn Nets trampled the Bulls in a dominant playoff debut

New York Rangers win in a shootout

New Jersey Devils win big

Boston Bruins returned to home-ice action with an emotional ceremony and played a great game

New York Mets played a great game with the Nationals and at least got to see Bryce Harper show some magic

Traveling a little farther south but still in the region…

Baltimore Orioles swept a double header on the memorial day for the late Earl Weaver

Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the first-place Braves

Pittsburgh Penguins won their hockey game in dramatic fashion

Philadelphia Flyers took care of business

- Afore-mentioned Washington Nationals won in dramatic fashion

Washington Capitals won big over division-leading Canadiens

What more could you ask for?

tim duncan

Miller’s NBA Playoff Predictions

(April 20)

In my first year trying I dominated my fantasy basketball league, finishing 9 (Roto) points ahead of the next guy, grabbing the most assists, steals, blocks, and three pointers. Now that that is done, the next obstacle is the real NBA Playoffs.

Generally, the playoffs go to the teams that play better defense, shoot better free throws and stay healthy, and that is where I trend.  Here are my picks for the first round (in order of comment length). There are traditionally few upsets in the NBA, but I pick some.

Nets vs. Bulls: When the Nets fired Avery Johnson back in the day when they were 14-14 I said it was a good thing for the team and that Brooklyn will improve and not only make the playoffs but they would win a series. Joachim Noah has a bad foot that makes him doubtful for Game 1 and compromised in the series. Derrick Rose could surprise everyone and decide to play, and that could change things as the Nets have struggled against quick and offense-minded point guards. But Rose hasn’t faced NBA competition in twelve months, so even if he did play he wouldn’t be effective. Meanwhile, Deron Williams and Brook Lopez are playing their best ball of the year right now, and a few extra days off should help Joe Johnson be in prime condition. Reggie Evans has emerged as the best rebounder in the NBA. Historically, D-Will performs at the highest level in the playoffs. Bulls are a trendy pick; in fact, it seems like the Nets are the underdogs. Nets advance in their first year in Brooklyn. Nets in 5

Knicks vs. Celtics. Knicks set the record for most threes in a season. Historically, teams reliant on the three-ball have not done as well in the playoffs. Also, the Knicks haven’t won a playoff series in thirteen years. They are facing a Celtics team that is missing Rajon Rondo but still has KG, Paul Pierce and Doc Rivers, along with Jason Terry off the bench who has hit big playoff shots in his career. Celtics have been waiting for the playoffs for a month now. They don’t have much depth, especially in the middle, and that could cause concern, especially if Garnett gets in foul trouble. Carmelo Anthony is the best player in the series, but if he and J.R. Smith fall in love with the mid-range and shots from downtown, Boston will come away on top. And how nice that would be for a city coming off such a terrible tragedy. Celtics in 7

Nuggets and Warriors. I like the Warriors’ team and I want to pick them here, but for a lot of the same reason as the Knicks, I’ve gotta go with Denver. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are great shooters but in the playoffs the better defensive team usually controls the game. Even in Curry’s best games when he takes over the Warriors still typically don’t win. And the Nuggets are really solid perimeter defenders. One concern for Denver is health; they are losing players (Gallinari, Faried, etc.) at the wrong time of the year. If Golden State can get the ball inside to David Lee and Andrew Bogut regularly rather than I like their chances but I’m afraid they won’t do that. Nuggets in 7

- Clippers vs. Grizzlies. These are two great teams in one of the best matchups of the first round and a rematch of last year. Lob City won in seven games last year, but I’ve gotta go with my gut and my heart and pick the Grizzlies; I like their defense and inside game with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. And to pick another stat I like, Memphis is a Top Ten free throw team while the Clippers are a bottom five, and free throws could make the difference in a long tight series. Grizzlies in 7

- Thunder and Rockets. An intriguing matchup as James Harden faces his former team. There was a lot of talk at the beginning of the season as to whether the Thunder made a big mistake “breaking up the band” so early but they still managed to finish on top in the West and are the favorites to represent in the Finals again. Rockets are exciting with Harden, James Lin, Chandler Parsons and Thomas Robinson but they just don’t play much defense and OKC is simply a much better team. Thunder in 6

Spurs vs. Lakers. Lakers aren’t very good with or without Kobe. Tim Duncan is having one of his best ever seasons and now is where his focus has been. There is no focus in LA and Dwight Howard is going to be shooting about 18 free throws a game. How many can he make? Not enough. I like San Antonio big in this series. Spurs in 4

Heat vs. Bucks.  LeBron and Bosh are playing their best ball of their careers and while Wade has played in just 3 of the last 10 games, he played 23 effective minutes in their last contest. Heat haven’t even been trying and they’ve still won 8 in a row. Won’t be a sweep, but the Bucks won’t challenge the Heat too much. Heat in 5

Pacers vs. Hawks. Atlanta has been falling apart lately and they just aren’t that good! They haven’t beaten anybody good in over a month. Indiana’s defense will wear out the Hawks and end the series quickly. Pacers in 5

EAST
Heat in 5
Celtics in 7
Pacers in 5
Nets in 5
WEST
Spurs in 4
Thunder in 6
Nuggets in 7
Grizzlies in 7
FINALS
Heat over Spurs in 6